Exodus 20:7 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who taketh his name in vain.
Also, Deuteronomy 5:11.
This is another simple verse to contemplate which can be looked into very deeply if desired. First, let’s discuss what it means to take the Lord’s name in vain. Vanity is uselessness, by definition. It carries the concept of idleness, worthlessness, futility and ineffectualness.
So to use something in vain connotes that the use of the object is below the intended or designed use. This verse is not prohibiting any use, just vain use. So in order to know if we are using the Lord’s name in vain, (for example, in this sentence!), we must see if we can esteem the worth of the Lord’s name. Only then can we truly know when it would be vanity to use it at all.
As usual, let’s turn to scripture as our first and ultimate source of direction.
Psalm 138:2 I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
So from God’s perspective, His name is exalted above all things. I conclude that to use God’s name as we would use a regular cuss word would be disrespectful and blasphemous to the worth of His name. I’m not going to ‘prove’ it here, but I do believe it is ok to speak of the Lord, by name, with respect. To worship and praise Him and His Holy Name is acceptable. As usual though, it is the attitude of the heart that really matters.
2Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.
3To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
So what are the contents of the heart of a person that says things like “What the heck?” and “Oh my gosh!” Are these people uttering innocent phrases? Are you? How about if you are typing or speaking and you say “OMG” instead? My personal thoughts on this are that someone came up with replacement words. Someone is trying to cover the sin in their heart by replacing the outward appearance, when inwardly their heart is still darkened by sin and a lack of reverence for the name of the Lord. I do not think this is too extreme; I think that if a person finds it hard to quit using these phrases, then it indicates a problem in their heart. Matthew 12:36 is a scary warning about the tongue! I was guilty of this sin early in Christianity until a loving sister brought it to my attention. I immediately justified it, but then the Holy Spirit would not allow me to continue the practice! I pray the same result for you. I do not even say “My Goodness” anymore, especially since Goodness is synonymous with my God, the God of the Bible.
Finally, the part of the verse I really want to cover is the second part, that he will not be held guiltless who uses the Lord’s name in vain. There is a clearly implied declaration of the need for God’s wrath for sin to be satisfied. The Lord will NOT hold anyone guiltless. This is divine justice in action. But what did God do? He satisfied His wrath for your blasphemy on His Son, if you would repent and believe the gospel! (Mark 1:15)